Women exposed to artificial light at night were more likely to gain weight
12 June, 2019, 13:53
After controlling for factors such as pregnancy or shift workers, as well as physical activity, diet, sleep duration and quality, researchers found that sleeping with the light on was associated with a weight gain of five kilograms or more.
Falling asleep to a movie or TV show could be helping you gain weight.
"While sleeping with a small night light was not associated with putting on pounds, researchers found that women who slept with a room light or television on were 17 percent more likely to have gained approximately 11 pounds or more during the study's follow-up period".
Park said that exposure to artificial light at night may suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.
Although more studies are needed to cement the concept, experts say it makes "perfect biological sense" that having blue light around you at night could make you hungrier.
Women who reported more than one type of artificial light were categorized at the highest level of exposure.
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"Our findings. suggest that lowering exposure to [artificial night at light] while sleeping may be a useful intervention for obesity prevention", researchers said. Participants' weight was recorded at the start of the study, and they were followed for an average of 5.7 years.
"There was a dose response, in that the more light in the room the stronger the association", Sandler said.
Lack of sleep has always been associated with obesity, but until now, the association between artificial light exposure while sleeping and weight gain has been unknown.
Researchers also noted other factors, like exposure to artificial light at night can be reflective of unhealthy behaviour, such as eating badly, sedentary lifestyle or stress, and socioeconomic disadvantage. "It indicates that we need to respect our sleep and respecting our sleep means making a sleep environment devoid of any type of light ideally".
Dr. Phyllis Zee, an expert in sleep and circadian rhythm disorders at Chicago's Northwestern University, said the study is important because it highlights a behavior that can be easily changed to reduce the risk of gaining weight.
However, commenting on the study, Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, said, "The findings make flawless biological sense".
This sleep study comes on the heels of another study that found irregular sleep patterns, including not going to bed and waking up at the same time each day or getting different amounts of sleep each night, can put people at a higher risk for obesity, heart disease, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders.
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